This already is the third issue of Energy Transmission. So, I’m doing this for three month now. We’re sort of closing the first season of my 'sletter now. In this monthly newsletter I explore the question “what is the culture of tomorrow?” together with those who are close to the fire. I have conversations with people I crossed paths with, or who's work inspires me and pair it with stuff we both think is worth checking out.
As I mentioned before, I now want to look east for the upcoming issues of this 'sletter. First Japan, then New Zealand and then back up to South Korea. Let's kick it off with Adrian and his practice located in Tokyo City. He is a regular in like every streetwear or sneaker magazine that ever existed. And then he also started his own magazine Sabukaru. I had to have him as a guest! I'm very honored and happy that he took the time for a nearly 2-hour interview in a late night session for me and an early morning session for him. Enjoy the issue! 🗼
Adrian Bianco was born in Munich here in Germany and is really what you call a jack of all trades. He describes himself as Creative Director, Editor-in-Chief and Cultural Researcher. Sounds familiar, right? He is a kid of when the streetwear/sneaker era exploded in Germany as well. Originally he studied law, but quickly left university to start working in sneaker stores. That marks the beginning of his extensive 10+ years experience in the culture. What he did there was translating retail business into Instagram, back when the platform started growing. Adrian recognized this huge potential early on and learned tricks and built his know-how upon experience and was then ultimately driven into the agency world. A big agency stop was Virtue, the agency of Vice Magazine, where he started working on the Vice channel for Snapchat discovery. This pretty much describes his way of handling content marketing from a consumers perspective: understanding consumers and their mindsets beyond the usual marketing bla-bla and know-how.
Adrian was very attracted by Japan early on from work trips and then started his own company in Tokyo 3 years ago: Bianco Bianco. Started from the bottom with renting 3sqm office space. Unsure of how it all worked out. Fast forward to now. Bianco Bianco has grown into a full agency and consultancy: when brands want to do something on Asian ground or if brands want to lean into Japanese street and pop culture, this is the go to address.
The German pendant to Bianco Bianco is Nero Nero. An agency located in Berlin. Speaking of Berlin, Adrian is also part of the Arys Store in Berlin. Very selected, handpicked brands and pieces to stand out even in the vast sneaker world of Germany’s capital.
Do you get why I said jack of all trades?
And finally there is Sabukaru. A platform that started last year and now really gained momentum and sits at over 120k followers on Instagram. “The first magazine that really translates, researches and writes what happens in Japan. Beyond Bape Shirts and Manga, beyond consumerism. Finding things in the past and what lies ahead, that makes Japan the cultural melting pot it is.” And maybe there will be a print issue to gaze upon for your coffee table. Adrian and me both share the love for printed matter and he let something in that way slip through. We gotta be patient...
“There is another level of energy, of drive, when I write or research a piece of content on a very special movie. Or a video game. It brings up a blend of memories, happy feelings and the creative output I strive for.” What Sabukaru has done, it's the first magazine where subcultures are now the cool kids that have risen up and are now taking over streetwear and sneaker culture rather than the other way around. Before it was that streetwear brands occasionally dipping into the culture. “Sabukaru is the first hub, where people can wear this very special outdoor garment, then watch this anime episode and deep dive into another kawaii experience. It’s a small niche we built, beyond the typical Hypebeast reader.” I have to admit, that videogaming and nerding into TV series feel much more natural in this kind of hub, than at the bigger media outlets.
Talking more about what trends we both observed and got dragged into, of course we came across Gorpcore and its Japan-boundness – a trend that seems to have emerged from the center in Tokyo. “Functionality has become this major factor when buying new fashion. On the one hand, if it really rains heavily and the weather conditions abruptly changes and on the other hand, of course, to justify that you spent so much money on this piece of clothing. Because you already own 5 different jackets.” It's super interesting to see that clothing is (again) starting to actually do something besides just referencing or just looking good. And it's even more interesting to see where it's going. “If you wear a sneaker with the best cushioning. And then you wear another shoe without that level of function. You start to recognize that you don’t want to compromise in terms of performance any more.” We were aligned on this one: the Gorpcore trend won’t stop, because people notice how great a piece of garment or material is and what advantages this or that jacket brings to the wearer.
Going further into movements of the (youth) culture, we talked about gaming becoming something everybody does nowadays and everybody appreciates as an art form. We are all gamers. Take Speedrunning or Fighting Game tournaments. “The culture we grew up with, suddenly has this nostalgia power. It’s not just a video game anymore, not a poster anymore, for us, this becomes art.” Our culture is so completely different than our parents’ culture. The generation before them had no space and place for turning youth culture into art, like we do now. There were great artists, but comics, games and toys for adults were suppressed by society. “For me, to put an artifact like my sealed Neon Genesis Evangelion N64 game on the wall, is art. Priceless memorabilia.” For me personally, as you might know from my Instagram, it’s the 1993 megazord sitting on my shelf that fuels me with positive vibes and energy every single time I look at it.
You might think this is a phenomena of big cities and cultural hubs, but as Adrian states "Tokyo is small when you look at your own scene. If you move in the same circles, it sounds crazy, but it's very manageable in my niche. Even in a 35 million city like Tokyo." But I still think, the scenes are fusing into larger scenes. In a way more fragmented, but broader.
On a quick side note – because I didn't know it: in Japan you can’t silence your phone. It will always make the camera noise. It’s to protect people from being photographed secretly. Says a lot about society. And how to cope with a new generation of “problems”. Anyway, let's move on to what the future holds for us...
“Old people, old OGs behave like gatekeepers and will always give bad vibes for anything new that emerges with the next generations after them.” Compare it to the old roster of rappers hating on mumble or emo rap. “Old people saying that the youth are cringe are so wrong. They are cringe if they do not respect the next generation, try to understand the youth and keep being curious.” Never loose your curiosity! That is the perfect link to past transmissions, where I talked about keeping the amateur energy up – stay innocent and don’t let experience ruin your creative open-mindedness with false assumptions. “I met legends that developed something like age arrogance. But it’s way cooler to embrace the youth."
Of course, we had to dip into the metaverse and NFT-world real quick since it's all over the place. “When I played World of Warcraft, I was part of the metaverse as well. And that was a long time ago. Brands and companies just hop on the train of Web 3 to check it of their list. Suddenly the forums, boards and online gaming with avatars has become 'the metaverse'. It was always there in that form. It’s just being online." I agree on this one, it's a new name for something old. But, we gotta say it fuels this buzzword with lots of new energy and we need to observe how this will develop beyond making a quick buck with NFTs. “New technology absorbs a lot of energy and resources. On all levels. But somewhere it gotta start and we got to be curious for the adolescence of the metaverse.”
When I asked Adrian where he goes to get that extra dose of inspiration, he tells me that riding his bike through Tokyo is his main source. He keeps lists and lists of ideas and articles for Sabukaru close to him. But he also kind of travels back in time. “I collect lots of old japanese magazines. Before getting to work I scan through the mags and look for the coolest things and sites. That inspires me for a lot of things in the future.” And of course, it’s people. “Surround yourself with inspiring people. Young folks with cool looks, that are interested in things you don’t know much about.”
Before ending our (for me) late-night interview-sesh, I wanted to know what things got Adrian excited lately.
"Functional workwear brand with outdoor aesthetics. Originated from Italy with highest quality materials and tech. Very progressive and avant-garde visuals. Very very interesting and 'Made In Italy' quality."
"Japanese wear Adidas differently than the rest of the world. They do it in such cool fashion. So effortlessly cool. I saw this old shoe in some magazines and just gotta have it. The 2008 version with a bubbly snake skin on it."
"No one will be surprised but I can’t live without the newest issue of the One Piece Manga, that comes out every Thursday. Sometimes there’s a week pause and it hurts my heart. This series must go on forever."
When I asked him this question he really struggles. And first promptly replies with: “The culture of tomorrow is YOU & everyone out there”. After giving him a few days time he send me his final answer. And of course, we will stay connected. And I like his way of thinking, because yeah, it can be found today, if you explore the world with an open mind and heart. Look in the right places with the right perspective.
For Adrian the culture of tomorrow can be found today… on Sabukaru ;)
Every month, after the interview section, I share with you some things I found on the Internet or in streets, that infused me with good vibes. These are my new energy sources:
ENCORE – The Live Interactive Music App
Another month, another Live Experience App. After researching, working and observing on Live Apps for shopping like NTWRK, POPSHOP and of course VRTKL, it was time that something takes Live Music to another level on mobile phones. That is what 'Encore' aims for: interactive mobile experiences that brings artists and fans closer together than on Twitch, TikTok or Instagram. Like a real concert on your phone. The most prominent rapper/artist currently featured there is Kid Cudi. Keep an eye out for this new app and let's see if this will go down soon, will be bought by another big player or if we will have a revolutionary mobile experience that stays.
Another month, another Fashion Show. VA forever. What else can I say? What he, his team, the brand Off-White and everyone who participated in creating this wonderful show, like Playlab Inc. once again, is just mesmerizing and worth watching more than one time. It's the Fall/Winter 22 "High Fashion" show for the brand that is so much more than yellow action belts and huge logos on the back of a t-shirt. "A manifesto for his democratic and inclusive fashion revolution, this disruptive debut “high fashion” collection conceived and designed by Virgil takes the establishment’s most sacred symbols and turns them on their head." – See for yourself!
Another month, another art project. This time from my friends at Neo-Metabolism. Without their help, I wouldn't be writing this newsletter. And I wouldn't be practicing as tobi.energy. I can't give them enough kudos. But beyond that NM has a growing community of artists and creative thinkers, with whom they research on different fields of society. They just launched a two-part research capsule where they collectively look at how we imagine a Utopia and how the urge for it is much higher in the dark times we experience. "A thread running through the pieces published here, is how ideas for a more liveable world can become reality, and how utopian imaginaries can be translated into practice."
Another month, another music video. Orville Peck has to be one of my favorite artists right now. 3 years ago, when his debut album PONY came out, he immediately cast a spell on me with his unique sound, his amazing voice and his style. That western cowboy balaclava will never gets old and brings a next level aesthetic to his genre. He will release his next album 'BRONCO' in one week on April 8. But he already blessed us with two Chapters as excerpts and previews of the album. Listening into the released songs, this will be a guaranteed masterpiece. I can't wait. The video for the single "The Curse of the Blackened Eye" shows off his extraordinary view and feel for beautifully shot visuals to his wonderful songs. And it also stars none other than Norman Reedus as 'The Curse'. Can't get enough of Orville Peck. Enjoy!
Another month, another huge announcement. I am so happy to finally share this with you. My dear friend boju just launched his practice as Brand Strategist and Value Designer. As he states it: "It’s a move of shedding a rigid construct, and building a flexible forward-looking framework for the future. This new framework will be in some ways simpler and more straightforward, but also energetically more concentrated, targeted and effective." – check out his gorgeous website and slide into his dms to collaborate!
The next interview issue will release on May 1st. My second guest is from Auckland, New Zealand. Let's travel the world!
See you. 🫂
Have a great one - sending good vibes to you all!